Insurers to target deafness claims next

This article was published on: 11/20/13

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It has emerged in an article for Post Magazine that insurers are planning to target claims for industrial deafness, as they claim that it seems to be the whiplash in terms of a rise in claims.

After a busy 2013 of bludgeoning the whiplash claims industry, insurers are now alleging that the new problem area of claims management companies targeting appears to be where deafness is suffered from industrial work.

This belief has already been lambasted by Bridget Collier, a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers’ (APIL) executive committee.

She said: “It is virtually impossible to fraudulently make up the audiogram. If the ENT of audiologist suspected you were misrepresenting your hearing in the audiogram they would re-run it and you wouldn’t be able to repeat the same test results. There are other tests you can do as well.”

But insurers are insinuating that it lies further than faking the audiogram and are claiming that claimants are in fact fabricating the truth when it comes to how they have suffered their deafness.

So why the sudden interest in industrial deafness for insurers? Are the not satisfied alone with the damage they have done to the small claims and whiplash claims process so fantastically displayed in John Hyde’s blog for the Legal Gazette.

Well they claim that over the past two years to have noted a sharp rise in the amount of claims being made for industrial deafness. This of course can’t be down to claimants being genuine and so it must be fraud and in the insurers channel of thinking, it must be stopped in order to keep their outgoings down.

A further problem being highlighted by the insurance industry for which they are blaming claims management companies for is that amount of industrial deafness claims that are falling out of the portal.

This is again contested by APIL’s Bridget Collier who claims that the insurers, as they did with issues with whiplash claims, are simply laying the blame at someone else’s door when they have a far greater role to play.

She said: “I’ve heard some defendant solicitors are requesting documents that, according to my understanding, aren’t to be disclosed as part of the portal. The portal says you must disclose medical records that are mentioned in the evidence you supply. It doesn’t refer to having to obtain and disclose occupational health records. But defendants are saying that we’ve not supplied enough information so (the case has) got to fall out of the portal.”

Meanwhile senior manager of casualty claims at AIG, Simon Gallimore has defended insurance behaviour and laid the blame with the system. He thinks that the only way to bring claim numbers back down is to introduce a fixed recoverable costs regime to the handling of industrial deafness claims, a suggestion which was criticised by Collier as ‘completely unrepresentative of what is involved in these claims’, and warned that it could, as it has done with whiplash, restrict access to justice.

She went on to suggest that insurers should take into account how debilitating deafness can be for a genuine sufferer and that insurers should accept that where there is sufficient evidence that employers were negligent a payout should be made without contest.